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Autodesk, Inc.
Type Public (NASDAQADSK)
Founded Mill Valley, California, USA (1982)
Headquarters San Rafael, California, USA
Key people John Walker, Founder
Carl Bass, President and CEO
Industry CAD/CAM Software [1]
Products See complete listing.
Revenue $1.840 billion USD (FY 2007)
Net income $289.7 million USD (FY 2007)
Employees 7,300 (2008)[1]

Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQADSK) is an American multinational corporation that focuses on 2D and 3D design software for use in architecture, engineering and building construction, manufacturing, and media and entertainment. Autodesk was founded in 1982 by John Walker, a coauthor of early versions of the company's flagship CAD software product AutoCAD, and twelve others. It is headquartered in San Rafael, California.

Autodesk has arguably become best-known due to its flagship computer-aided design software AutoCAD. Today, Autodesk is the world’s largest design software company, with more than 9 million users[2] throughout the world, and the company was recently named number 25 on Fast Company's list of "The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies."[3]

Autodesk has developed a broad portfolio of digital prototyping solutions[4] to help users visualize, simulate, and analyze real-world performance throughout the design process. The company also provides digital media creation and management software across all media and entertainment disciplines, from film and television visual effects, color grading, and editing to animation, game development, and design visualization.[5]

Products & Solutions

Platform Solutions & Emerging Business (PSEB)

Autodesk headquarters in San Rafael
A screenshot of AutoCAD, Autodesk's flagship product.

The Platform Solutions and Emerging Business division develops and manages the product foundation for most Autodesk offerings across multiple markets, including Autodesk's flagship product, AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, Autodesk's Geospatial Solutions (AutoCAD Map3D, AutoCAD MapGuide Enterprise, etc), Plant Solutions (AutoCAD P&ID and AutoCAD Plant 3D), Autodesk Impression, Extended Design offerings such as Design Review, Autodesk Content Network (Autodesk Seek web service), Autodesk Labs, and Global Engineering.

Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC)

Autodesk's architecture, engineering, and construction solutions include AutoCAD-based design and documentation software such as AutoCAD Architecture (Old name - Architectural Desktop), AutoCAD MEP (Old name - Autodesk Building Systems)), and AutoCAD Civil 3D, as well as advanced technology for relational building modeling such as Revit Architecture (Old name - Revit Building), Revit Structure, and Revit MEP (Old name - Revit Systems). The AEC division also develops and manages the collaborative project management (CPM) solutions, Buzzsaw and Constructware, the recently acquired NavisWorks software tools, and analysis tools for sustainable design including Autodesk Green Building Studio and Autodesk Ecotect.


Autodesk's manufacturing solutions are used in various manufacturing segments, including industrial machinery, electro-mechanical, tool and die, industrial equipment, automotive components, and consumer products. Products include AutoCAD Inventor Suite, AutoCAD Inventor Professional Suite, AutoCAD Mechanical, Autodesk Vault and Alias.

Media & Entertainment

Autodesk’s media and entertainment solutions are designed for digital media creation, management, and delivery across all disciplines, from film and television visual effects, color grading, and editing to animation, game development, and design visualization. Autodesk’s Media and Entertainment Division is based in Montreal, Quebec. It was established in 1999 after Autodesk, Inc. acquired Discreet Logic, Inc. and merged its operations with Kinetix. In January 2006, Autodesk acquired Alias, a developer of 3D graphics technology.

The principal product offerings from the Media and Entertainment Division are Maya, Softimage, 3ds max, Discreet Inferno, Discreet Flame, Discreet Fire, Discreet Flint, Discreet Smoke, Toxik and Lustre. These Academy Award winning products are covered on a dedicated page for the Media and Entertainment Division.

Other Products & Solutions

Other products include Autosketch, Autodesk Subscription Program and Autodesk LocationLogic.

Discontinued Products

From time to time Autodesk discontinues some of the products in their portfolio. Some of Autodesk's "retired" products are listed here:

  • Volo View was a web-enabled review and markup tool from Autodesk for engineering data, including support for Autodesk’s DWG, DXF, and DWF formats. Volo View enabled design teams to communicate ideas and review designs without access to AutoCAD software. Autodesk discontinued sales of Volo View on May 1, 2005. The latest version of the software, Volo View 3, worked with the following file formats: AutoCAD 2004, DWG and DXF; Design Web Format (DWF 6); Autodesk Inventor 7 IPT, IAM, and IDW and raster files. The functionality of this product is largely replaced by Autodesk DWF Composer (versions 1 and 2) later replace by the free Autodesk Design Review. Autodesk has also released a free product called DWG TrueView. This product enables users to view and plot AutoCAD DWG and DXF files, and to publish these same files to the DWF file format.
  • Autodesk Animator Pro (DOS) and Autodesk Animator Studio (Windows) were products designed for cell based animation produced between the early to mid 1990s. At the time Autodesk was also advertising an Autodesk Media product similar in description to Macromedia's Director but this product was never released to the public.
  • Cyberspace by Autodesk was an early real-time 3D environment capable of producing basic phong shaded walkthroughs of DXF format models in "realtime". No textures were supported, and the system was able to support a maximum DXF model size of around 35 KB.[citation needed] A popular demo model of the Parthenon in Greece was shown around the US in a tour of the portable demo system - complete with virtual reality goggles.


Autodesk's first notable product was AutoCAD, a CAD application designed to run on the systems known as "microcomputers" at the time, including those running the 8-bit CP/M operating system and two of the new 16-bit systems, the Victor 9000 and the IBM Personal Computer (PC). This CAD tool allowed users to create detailed technical drawings, and was affordable to many smaller design, engineering, and architecture companies.

Release 2.1 of AutoCAD, released in 1986, included AutoLisp, a built-in Lisp interpreter initially based on XLISP.[6] This opened the door for third party developers to extend AutoCAD's functionality, to address a wide range of vertical markets - strengthening AutoCAD's market penetration.

Subsequent to AutoCAD Release 12, the company stopped supporting the Unix environment and the Apple Macintosh platform. After AutoCAD Release 14, first shipped in 1997, Autodesk discontinued development under MS-DOS, and focused exclusively on Microsoft Windows.

AutoCAD has grown to become the most widely used CAD program for 2D non-specialized applications.[citation needed] The native file formats written by AutoCAD, DXF and DWG, are also widely used for CAD data interoperability.

In the early 1990s, with the purchase of Softdesk in 1996, Autodesk started to develop specialty versions of AutoCAD, targeted to broad industry segments, including architecture, civil engineering, and manufacturing. Since the late 1990s, the company has added a number of significant non-AutoCAD-based products, including Revit, a parametric building modeling application (acquired in 2002, from Massachusetts-based Revit Technologies for $133 million), and Inventor, an internally developed parametric mechanical design CAD application.

Over the last few years Autodesk has pursued a strategy of acquisitions:

  • On January 10, 2006, Autodesk acquired Alias, with its automotive styling and digital content creation applications, for $197 million USD.[7]
  • On August 6, 2007, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Skymatter Inc, developer of Mudbox.[8]
  • On August 9, 2007, Autodesk Completes Acquisition of NavisWorks, Inc. for a purchase price of $26 million, plus a working capital adjustment. [9]
  • On August 20, 2007, Autodesk announced that it has completed the acquisition of technology and product assets of Opticore AB, based in Gothenburg, Sweden.[10] Opticore is specialized in real time visualisation primarily for the carmakers industry.
  • On August 28, 2007, Autodesk announced the acquisition of California-based PlassoTech, developers of CAE applications. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.[11]
  • On November 25, 2007, Autodesk announced the intent to acquire Robobat, a France-based developer of structural engineering analysis applications. The acquisition was completed on January 15, 2008.[12][13]
  • On May 1, 2008, Autodesk announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Moldflow Corporation, a leading provider of injection molding simulation software.[14]
  • On May 7, 2008, Autodesk announced that it has completed the acquisition of Kynogon SA, the privately held maker of Kynapse artificial intelligence middleware.[15] Paris-based Kynogon specialized in video game middleware and simulation.
  • The same day, Autodesk also announced the acquisition of REALVIZ S.A..[16] REALVIZ was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Sophia Antipolis, France. REALVIZ's flagship products are "Stitcher" software for the creation of panoramas and 360 degree virtual tours, and "ImageModeler" software to produce 3D models from photographs.
  • On June 26, 2008, a press release announced the acquisition of Square One Research and its flagship product, Ecotect.[17]
  • On October 23, 2008, Autodesk announced the acquisition on Avid's Softimage, Co. business, developers of 3D application Softimage (formerly Softimage|XSI), for $35 million USD.[18]
  • On December 17, 2008, Autodesk signed a definitive agreement to acquire ALGOR, Inc. for approximately $34 million.[19]

These numerous acquisitions point to a trend in strategy for Autodesk : buy small- to medium-sized software companies around the world in order to acquire their very specific know-how and to avoid the rise of potential future competitors.[citation needed]

Autodesk's products compete against products from several companies, including MicroStation from Bentley Systems, VectorWorks from Nemetschek, ArchiCAD from Graphisoft, Istram/Ispol from Buhodra Ingeniería, SolidWorks, owned by Dassault Systemes, Solid Edge from Siemens's UGS PLM Software, 12d Model, owned by 12d Solutions, Pro/E from PTC and Silo (software) from Nevercenter.

Autodesk was sued in 2007 by Mr. Timothy Vernor, who alleged that he was entitled to sell on eBay "used" AutoCAD software he had obtained at an office liquidation sale from an Autodesk licensee.[20] A federal district judge in Washington State denied AutoDesk's initial motion to dismiss in early 2008. In February and March 2009, both sides filed motions for summary judgment addressing the issue whether the First Sale Doctrine applies to previously licensed software.[21] The Court has not yet ruled on those motions.


In 2006 Autodesk sponsored a PBS program named e^2 Design, which focused on going green in building designs around the world. Narrated by Brad Pitt, viewers learn about the leaders and technologies driving sustainable design.

See also

  • AutoCAD
  • Autodesk Developer Network
  • Digital Prototyping


  1. "Company Profile for Autodesk Inc (ADSK)". Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  2. "Autodesk - Press Room - Corporate Information". Autodesk. August 2008. 
  3. "The World's Most Innovative Companies". Fast Company. March 2008. 
  4. "Autodesk - Digital Prototyping". Autodesk. 2008. 
  5. "Autodesk - Media & Entertainment". Autodesk. 2008. 
  6. AutoCAD Major Feature Release History
  7. "Autodesk & Alias". 2006-03-12. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  8. "Autodesk Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Skymatter, Makers of Mudbox 3D Brush-based Modeling Software.". Autodesk. 6 August 2007. 
  9. "Autodesk Completes Acquisition of NavisWorks". 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  10. "Autodesk Completes Acquisition of Opticore AB". 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  11. "Autodesk Acquires PlassoTech". Taume News. 28 August 2007. 
  12. "Autodesk Announces Intent to Acquire Robobat". Autodesk. 25 November 2007. 
  13. "Autodesk Completes Acquisition of Robobat". Autodesk. 15 January 2008. 
  14. "Autodesk Announces Intent to Acquire Moldflow". 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  15. "Autodesk Completes Acquisition of Kynogon SA". 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  16. "Autodesk Acquires Assets of REALVIZ, Developer of Image-Based Content Creation Software". 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  17. "Autodesk Enhances Sustainable Design Capabilities With Acquisitions of Ecotect and Green Building Studio Analysis Tools". 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  18. "Autodesk Signs Agreement With Avid Technology to Acquire Softimage". 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  19. "Autodesk to Acquire ALGOR, Inc.". 2008-12-17. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 

External links